Masters of Food and Wine

BY SARAH LANG
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ADRIAN LANDER

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Max Allen is no ordinary wine writer. For him a story about a certain bottle of wine maybe less about the contents on the other side of the glass and more about the life history of the winemaker. An article about Yarra Valley cool climate wines could lead to a story about Swiss settlers and aboriginal elders. He is a man with a curious mind. He is also devastatingly witty and funny, even self-deprecatingly so. He’s been known to take the mickey out of his profession, spuriously listening to a glass of wine as opposed to sniffing it or admiring the colour. Max has won awards for his wine writing, which over the past quarter century has identified the major trends in wine production and consumption. In his book The Future Makers he wrote about how wine makers, including those in this wine region, were some of the first primary producers to respond to the effects of climate change.  

He is also the next-door neighbour and close friend to our very own Editor-at-Large, Richard Cornish. His other gig is as a food writer working for The Age and famous for having his Good Food column Brain Food cancelled one week, only to be reinstated the next week after reader outrage. Although known for his sense of wit, he is a serious food journalist having exposed the use of hormone growth promotants in the Australian cattle industry and writing about the deplorable state of dairy in the nation leading to changes in production and packaging. “I still haven’t stopped the bloody supermarkets from charging $1 dollar a litre for milk,” he says. “It is killing dairy farmers. Literally.” 

And it’s because they are so respected and so knowledgeable that they can get away with their other, more entertaining ventures. Just as Annabel Crabb has Kitchen Cabinet, these two have – The Hungry Gentlemen. Together they are partner-in-crime performing hilarious, entertaining and honestly, mind-expanding food education classes and food and wine quizzes under the stage name, The Hungry Gentlemen. And they are about to hit Daylesford.

 Revelation, Graeme Drendel

Earlier this year they headlined the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival with their sidesplittingly funny and truly engaging quiz show Masterquiz. “Masterquiz is about putting something in your mouth and letting your senses do the rest,” says Max. “In an age where every fact can be Googled we wanted to create an evening’s entertainment where everyone has the same chance of winning,” says Richard. “Just as long as they have a nose and tongue,” quips Max. There are questions that relate to film, fads and food fashions and ample opportunities to taste alcohol.

Masterquiz is divided into four rounds of five questions. Teams have to taste food and wine, identify flavours, and test their memory by working out different aromas in wines and spirits. Max and Richard give away spot prizes including cookbooks written by chefs who allegedly still owe their staff and suppliers a lot of money. “It’s all done in the best possible taste and everything has been sanctioned by our legal team prior,” says Richard. 

Proudly presented by Lost Magazine, Masterquiz Daylesford will be held on Monday, October 15 at the Farmers Arms Hotel in Daylesford at 7 PM and will include a drink on arrival, canapés and dinner. Deliberately held on a Monday night to encourage teams from local restaurants - teams of two and four are encouraged, but if you come alone Max and Richard will team you up with equally talented taster. The winning team of Masterquiz takes the honour of being awarded the “Golden Tongue”. For the Daylesford version of Masterquiz, the golden tongue is a beautifully handcrafted wooden artwork made by local artisan woodworker Tanya Baricevich. “The perpetual trophy will sit in the Farmers Arms in Daylesford where the winning team’s name will be deeply etched by an engraver with a ciggie hanging out the corner of their mouth,” says Richard. 

Masterquiz Daylesford, Farmers Arms Hotel,
1 East St, Daylesford October 15, 7 PM. Tickets $95 inclusive. For bookings head to www.thefarmersarms.com.au

www.hungrygentlemen.com.au